Merlene Davis: Families need help to bring adoption documentary to Lexington

Herald-Leader columnistFebruary 2, 2013 

Ann Boccutti and Haley Butler are two girls featured in the documentary Somewhere Between, which tries to answer the question "Who am I?"

  • ONLINE

    More about Somewhere Between: Somewherebetweenmovie.com

    Help bring the movie to Lexington: Tugg.com/events/2825

    Read reviews of the film on Metacritic.com: Bit.ly/VzYCFc

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Michael Connor isn't quite sure what issues his two multicultural daughters will face as they come of age, but he is open to learning as much as he can before then.

Connor and his wife, Joanna, adopted their daughters from China: Lucy, 7, was adopted in 2006, and Claire, 41/2, in 2009.

So when he and others in the growing international adoption community learned about three years ago that a documentary was being made profiling teenage girls who had been adopted from China by American parents, some decided to help financially in the production and promotional phases.

The film, Somewhere Between, follows those four girls in their American lives, complete with minivans, typical school activities, as well as a nagging sense of not quite belonging. In the film, they become introspective about where they came from and why their families abandoned them.

Since 1979, when China introduced the one-child policy limiting the number of children per family, American families have adopted tens of thousands of abandoned children, primarily girls. China's inheritance laws have favored boys, because boys were expected to grow up to care for parents and girls were expected to marry into another family. Some think infant girls are sometimes abandoned so parents can try again for a boy.

Questions about abandonment are threads in the film, and Connor fears his daughters could have those concerns, too.

Until recent months, the film had been seen only at film festivals, where it has garnered mostly positive reviews. It received a score of 67 out of 100 on the review-aggregation website Metacritic.com. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "You'd have to be a stone not to be moved." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote, "It is a touching movie that, at first, might seem like a public service announcement, but eventually takes us into some touching personal struggles."

Somewhere Between is directed by Linda Goldstein Knowlton, who is also the parent of a daughter from China. She spent three years following the film's girls in their hometowns as well as to Europe and China.

"It follows their efforts to answer identity and unique cultural questions that add another variable to the already confusing teenage years," Connor said.

At least, that is what he has read, heard or was able to discern from the trailer. Connor has not seen the documentary yet, but he is hoping you will help him bring it to Lexington.

Connor said he and others made a few attempts to get a theater to show the film in Lexington, but failed. They then learned about Tugg, an online platform aimed at helping smaller films and their audiences find each other. Tugg works with several theater chains to set up screenings for independent films. In Lexington, that theater chain is Cinemark.

Then a promoter (in this case, Connor) agrees to get the word out and pre-sell the seats for a designated date. If all seats are sold out, the film will be shown.

That's where the rest of us come in.

Connor said he must pre-sell a minimum of 89 tickets at $10 each for the documentary to be shown at the Cinemark Fayette Mall theater on Feb. 28. The deadline to pre-pay is Feb. 17, and tickets can be ordered only online, at Tugg.com/events/2825.

Your credit or debit card will not be charged until the goal is met.

Because of the sensitive subject matter, the film is not recommended for anyone younger than 14.

If demand is great enough, Connor said, there might be a second showing. As of Saturday afternoon, he still needed to sell 38 more tickets.

Maggie Schroeder of Wilmore is doing her part by urging her friends on Facebook to buy tickets.

"As an adoptive parent, I have concerns about how children from other cultures think about being raised in an adoptive family," she said. "I try to be proactive rather than reactive."

Schroeder and her husband are the parents of Luci, 7, whom they adopted from Guatemala.

She hopes the film, which she also has not seen, will open her eyes to potential issues with her daughter, as well as help better educate people around them.

"We feel the burden of educating other people," Schroeder said. "When we are out shopping, people are curious about your family and the different ethnicity."

She sees that as a golden opportunity to lead those people to the joys of multicultural adoption, she said.

The fact that the four girls in the film are of Chinese descent and her daughter was born in Central America isn't an issue for her. "I don't see that as a problem," she said. "The nature of the conversations will be the same with any international adoption."

Connor said his girls attend the Lexington Chinese School on Saturdays where they can stay in touch with their culture and heritage.

"At some point they will question who their birth mother was and why she left them and why they are adopted," he said.

He hopes social workers, teachers, neighbors and high school students see the film in hopes of a better understanding that could diminish the number of issues internationally adopted children face.

He and his wife will be there. "We just want to see how it affected these girls' lives," he said, "and how we can deal with the issues ourselves."


ONLINE

More about Somewhere Between: Somewherebetweenmovie.com

Help bring the movie to Lexington: Tugg.com/events/2825

Read reviews of the film on Metacritic.com: Bit.ly/VzYCFc


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Merlene Davis: (859) 231-3218. Email: mdavis1@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @reportmerle. Blog: merlenedavis.bloginky.com.

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